(1938-11-12) Wetter Than A Fish
Details for Wetter Than A Fish
Summary: Cooper pops into the Broomsticks for a drink, hoping to find Fabia; she is shown upstairs and finds in fact a drunken and lonely Fabia. (WARNING: Some slightly mature content, hardly worth mentioning really.)
Date: November 12th, 1938
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks
Related: Two charming meetings between the main characters: Distractions and A Gerbera Is A Gerbera Is A Gerbera.

Fabia's Rooms

On the night of the 12th of November a drink at the Three Broomsticks sounds like a decent scheme to Genevieve Cooper; less perhaps for its own sake than because she's hoping to run into the lady proprietress again.

But the sparkling presence of Fabia Fairfax is nowhere in evidence about the pub, nor is her valet, Frid, anywhere to be found; and when, after ordering her martini (still such a marvel, martinis in the Broomsticks!), Cooper lodges an inquiry with the girl behind the bar, she's told: "Don't know if she'll be down, miss, she came in a few hours ago and went straight up to her flat."

The bar wench called Tessa interrupts at this juncture.

"You're a friend of Mrs Fairfax's, aren't you?" she says, leaning a tray of empty glasses on the edge of the bar next to Cooper's stool for as long as they may be conversing. "I remember you from—" The morning after the night Cooper spent on the sofa upstairs. Tessa hesitates. "If you like," she offers, "I could take you up to knock on her door and see if she wants a bit of company…"

Cooper blinks, confused at Tessa's offer as the smoke from her cigarette lingers in the air. "I thought," her eyes peer between the bar girl and Tessa, choosing instead to believe the latter. "Does she choose to be alone tonight? I mean … I'd rather not disrupt her if—" She stops herself before she finishes her sentence. There's a reason why Cooper's come all the way out here to see the woman. A few recent events have weighed down, apparent in the way her hair and clothes seem to droop in a sadder manner than usual. "Actually, yes. If you would be so kind, I would like that very much." Cooper mashes her butt in an ashtray, downs the rest of her martini and makes to follow the savvy bar wench.

"You'd better come with me, miss," says Tessa. Something unreadable in her eyes.

She leaves the tray of empties behind the bar and holds the Staff Only door for Cooper, showing her the staircase and then the first door on the left. She won't leave someone who doesn't belong to the pub wandering about unescorted, though, no matter whose friend she is; it's her hand which knocks, and she waits with Cooper for an answer. A minute or two passes. She knocks again.

"Oh, just fuck off," Fabia exclaims from within.

"… Mrs Fairfax?" Tessa attempts.


The door opens, revealing two inches of Fabia and then three, and then when she sees her visitors and her shoulders relax, all of her. She's wearing a glorious peacock-patterned silk dressing-gown open over lingerie — a petticoat and camisole in turquoise satin trimmed with black lace. Her henna'd hair is loose, falling halfway down her back; her feet are stockinged; she has on the same diamond necklace she always wears, glittering against her collarbones.

"Coooooper," she coos, holding the vowel, and holds out her arms to the Auror. One hand has in it a twelve-inch ebony cigarette holder, in which smoulders the final inch of one of her Sobranie Black Russians. Thin black cigarettes, with golden filters. "Bless you, Tessa my sweet, for bringing me a Cooper. How did you know that was just what I wanted?" It must be an exaggeration, but what a charming one. Her breath is profoundly alcoholic. Not bad, but capable of felling any too-sensitive oxen she might chance to meet.

Cooper remains fairly nonchalant at the exchange between employee and employer. The brim of her cloche hat hangs low over her face and her hands rest in the oversized pockets. And as soon as the door opens, she lifts her chin up, blue eyes peeking out from her glasses which ride low on her face. With brows, raised she gives Fabia an up and down look for a long hard moment, before suddenly breaking into such a hearty and loud laugh. "A-HA-HA-HA!" Cooper belows, a hand over her face to poorly contain her laughter. Such a strange sight to see the smashed Fabia and the practically doubled over Auror. "Good god Fabia! You're wetter than a fish!" And the young blonde gladly immerses herself in the dancer's limbs, solid even in their age. "That's not an insult. I was simply miffed when I thought you weren't here. But I'm happy to see you," she gives the woman a warm hug, resting a head on the woman's collar like Peter on Jesus. "Please, a water for this fish here, and some ice as well," she kindly asks Tessa. She'll hydrate Fabia while getting herself sloshed.

On Fabia's side the hug is lovely and long and warm, despite the mirth being enjoyed at her expense, and in which she joins with the faint giggle of someone who doesn't entirely see the joke. She pats Cooper's head, holding it against her shoulder for as long as she likes to linger there amidst the silk and diamonds and heady French scent; and breaks their embrace in the end only to tug Cooper over the threshold by an arm slipped briefly through hers. (She pays no heed to the dubious look Tessa gives them both as she pulls the door to.)

"I'm so pleased to see you, too, sweetie," Fabia confides then.

The sitting-room is pristinely clean. The odd bits of floorboard which peek out from beneath the rugs gleam from recent waxing. Every photograph has been arranged according to the most precise symmetry, every cushion is plumped, there are four bouquets of fresh flowers disposed in vases here and there. Nothing is out of place but the occasional fragment of ash. Another falls unnoticed from Fabia's cigarette as she sashays into the bedroom (her bed is creased on top, but neatly made) to fetch her half-a-martini from her dressing-table.

"Put on a record," she calls out, as she checks her face in the glass. A touch more lipstick needed. She applies it. "Anything you please."

Yes. This is what Cooper needed. A hug. A sincere, long, hug. She doesn't care if there's a chance it won't be remembered in the morning. The Auror falls into it like a puddle in the desert. It's only disrupted by a tug into wonderland and down the rabbit hole she goes. Only Cooper seems to feel rather comfortable there. "If you insist!" the woman tugs off her jacket, throws it on the back of a chair, letting her hat topple on top of it. And with a quick flip through Fabia's collection she nods and slips the record onto the gramophone. "I know I always pick Billie, but I'm just in the mood for something raspy and bitter tonight." The needle scratchily glides in the grooves of the record and Cooper pauses to think on those adjectives. "Raspy and bitter. Got anything to drink that tastes like that?" she snickers, and from her pocket she procures a cheap cigarette. After lighting it, she notices Fabia's is going a little dim as well, and offers the flame to her tip.

To the drinks trolley! Fabia removes the lid from a cocktail shaker and flings a handful of ice into it. "Raspy and bitter, raspy and bitter…" she murmurs, surveying her army of bottles. A concoction begins to suggest itself to her. A little of this, a little of that. Cooper at her elbow, offering a light. She shakes her head, taking one last drag on the black and gold cigarette and putting it out in an empty glass, leaving the long holder sticking up as though it were a straw. "Bless you, sweetie, no," she says, breathing out smoke, "I've had too many already tonight. But you go on." When the flame dies she leans across the cooling lighter to leave a smudge of her newly-applied lipstick on the younger woman's cheek, in impulsive gratitude for the gesture. And then back to the cocktails. More gin, much more gin. Yes. Lid on; she shakes, with a practiced horizontal motion. More friction that way.

Tessa knocks discreetly and enters with two tall glasses of iced water, which she leaves, with a glance at the other women, on the coffee-table. She's away.

"What is it, sweetie," Fabia continues, pouring the improvised cocktails into two long-stemmed glasses, "that has brought you so fortuitously to my door? Or shall we just not talk about it, any of it, and talk about something else instead?"

"Suit yourself. I haven't," Cooper shrugs and puffs away at hers before tucking the lighter back in her trousers. She may not be able to drink, but she does smoke like a chimney and will pay for it one day. But today is not that day. Cooper giggles though, feeling the light coating of lip color on her cheek, but she makes no effort to wipe it off. "This is the closest to rouge I'll ever have on my face," she admires the mark in the mirror, ignoring the looks of Tessa as she slips in and out. An inhale and the fag is removed so that she can scoop up the drink dear Fabia's made for her. "I just feel the past is so talented at catching up with me. You ever have that happen?" she asks, taking a generous gulp and wincing. Raspy and bitter indeed!

These drinks kick like mules which have been denied cake; and Fabia likes it. She sips, smiles in approval at her own genius, and sips again. "Well," she says, threading her arm through Cooper's and meandering with her towards the sofa, "yesterday, I suppose, and last week, and that other time, and — all the time. That alas appears to be the function of the past. Never to be a good past and stay in the past, but to keep popping up and making a bloody mess of the present…" Drinking and walking she splashes a few drops upon her hand. Normally she has a perfect French manicure, tonight one nail is chipped.

Cooper lets out a groan that comes from somewhere deep in her chest when she takes another gulp. It's partially her fault to partaking in such large portions at a time, but she's allowing herself to be hasty tonight. "You're telling me then, that it never ends? And here I thought you were about to give me something hopeful! I suppose I'll be miserably haunted for the rest of my life then" she laughs, and obliges Fabia by walking arm and arm with her to the couch like a gentleman walks a lady. Cooper preferably being the gentleman, but with the strong drink slowly taking its toll the roles are rather blurred. "Speaking of misery. You sounded god awful talking to your girl earlier." She takes a drag and scrounges up the words, "Fuck off, wassit?"

Fabia is not, strictly speaking, a lady, and she will tell you that herself if you assume; but she'll gladly let anyone she likes play the gentleman for her. It's all part of the game, isn't it? And she does like Cooper. She perches on the edge of the sofa and draws the younger woman down to sit next to her, slipping her hand free of Cooper's arm in order to pull her close once more, her cocktail carefully held at arm's length by the other hand. "Come here, sweetie, you look as though you need another hug," she says, silky and satiny and sympathetic from head to toe. "And I know I do."

From the gramophone Billie Holiday sings:

"Can't you see
What love and romance have done to me
I'm not the same as I used to be

"This is my last affair

"Tragedy just seems to be the end of me
My happiness is misery

"This is my last affair…"

And Fabia uncrosses and recrosses her legs, petticoat riding up above her knees; and brings her glass to her lips over Cooper's shoulder to take a downright unhealthy gulp. Too, too on the nose. "Christ," she says, "what a song." After a moment she adds, wearily, "I thought it was someone else at the door."

Another hug from Fabia? There is no way Cooper could deny that, not this evening. She readily lets herself get drawn into the sofa, getting comfortable herself. Her small feet are slipped out of the brown leather boots, and serve some sort of proof that there is an actual woman under there. "I do need another," she wraps her lumpy sweater arms around the woman, frumpy but warm material. And she allows Fabia to take another drink before repositioning herself to lounge lazily back on the sofa. "Told you I was up for something raspy and bitter," she nods sagely, pressing lightly on Fabia's cheek to affectionately goad the woman to rest on her shoulder, lightly padded with ugly sweater. "Who'd you think it was?" A painful sip is taken as Billie sings on.

"… Oh, God, take your pick. I don't want to see any of them tonight. Not anyone I know," Fabia sighs, nestling up against Cooper quite as indicated. She seldom requires a second invitation to be close to someone. In fact she seldom requires a first invitation. Another gulp from her glass. "But I didn't want to be on my own either, so thank you, thank you, sweetie, for showing up. You don't know how glad I was to see you. I'll tell you that, so very frankly, because, God bless you, you're not a man." Her arm draped over Cooper's waist squeezes gently, though really she's holding more sweater than Cooper; she sighs again, and picks at the fabric over Cooper's stomach. "You're quite pretty, you know," she opines, "why don't you do anything about it? Do you just not like to? This sweater, sweetie… How it makes me want to dress you up in something."

Cooper raises her brows at that response. Her hands pulling her glasses off her face and into her hair, while she rubs an eye. "Not anyone?" The Auror looks at the woman on her shoulder, taking a deep inhale before exhaling in the opposite direction, "Darling, what have you done that's made you so ashamed you can't face those who see you everyday?" There's something gentle and cooing in the way she says that. Cooper laughs though and replies, "If God made me a man, I'd be useless. Although I'm quite relieved that you ended up being here as well. Despite your misery." Her wide blue eyes look nonchalantly at the elegant hands that play with her sweater. But Fabia's question makes take another sip in thought. "I don't know I suppose…that I feel a bit out of place when I've dressed up. Not in my own skin perhaps. I mean, it's like you wearing dress robes and a traditional pointed witch hat. I could never picture you in that." She snickers, affectionately smoothing the drunkard's hair with her own buzzed arm movement. "I used to do it occasionally in the past. Not so much anymore…"

The touch of Cooper's hand on Fabia's hair makes her nestle closer, shifting between hand and shoulder, enjoying them both. She has tried to tug Cooper's sweater into a neater arrangement, given up, and let her hand rest with fingers buried in the lumpy wool of it, just below her waist. "I've done nothing to be ashamed of," she murmurs into Cooper's shoulder, "it's what they've all done, and said, and me in the middle… Oh, God, I don't want to talk about it. Not tonight. I can't wear those hats, they look bloody awful on me. Worse than fancy dress. I suppose I know what you mean… You must feel yourself, you must wear what you like…" She looks up at Cooper's face; sees her spectacles pushed back; and beams. "But you are so pretty, you know, I don't mean you should wear frocks, if you don't like them, I wear trousers quite often myself, but you might wear… Well, you can't blame me for wondering, can you?"

The inner law enforcer in Cooper can't help but question so frankly. And despite her inner itch to know what troubled her friend so, Fabia's plea to not push the topic any further is met with compliance. "Alright alright, we shan't touch it again this evening," she reassures comfortingly with a smile, and she leans forward to put ditch the butt of her cigarette in the ashtray atop the coffee table. Even with all Fabia's beaming, Cooper doesn't understand the fuss until the last question comes about. She leans back resuming their comfortable position, but this time poising an arm around the dancer's comfortingly rubbing her shoulder. "Are you asking if I wear trousers and lumpy sweaters perhaps because I see myself more as a man? Perhaps because I fancy Nancys?" There's a tricky grin on her face.

"Well, I don't know," Fabia says frankly, downing the last of her raspy and bitter cocktail and, oh, dropping the glass on the floor next to the sofa rather than retreat from Cooper's embrace in order to put it on a table. Hedonism trumps good sense, once again. "Do you?" she asks, out of nowhere, her voice betraying curiosity but — naturally — no censure.

"Well I admit you're not the first person to ask," Cooper scratches her neck before patting her fancy nancy trousers again for her lighter. "I was a suffragette. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have an old fashioned school girl snog before. Only it never went further. So I really…i don't know." Success! Cheap cigarettes graze those lips of hers and she offers one to Fabia, totally forgetting about the woman's rejection earlier. Definitely is that cocktail. "Do you?" she asks as casually as she answer, mouth holding the roll as she lights up again.

The cocktail is also responsible for Fabia's acceptance of the offered cigarette, which she slips between her lips, waiting for a light. Once it's given she inhales; and exhales, coughing slightly. Not at all her usual brand. But it suits the mood, doesn't it. "Sweetie, I don't know either," she says, and the cough becomes a giggle. She seems to feel no self-consciousness about lying moulded against Cooper as they address the subject of their possible sapphic leanings. "Now and again when I was a girl, when I was simply mad about another dancer, I suppose the equivalent of your schoolgirl snogging, though just between ourselves rather more than that…" She draws on the cigarette again, this time without coughing. She uncrosses and re-crosses her legs again, too, without noticing that her petticoat rises to reveal an inch or so of the darker nylon of her stocking-tops. "I always liked men better, though, I didn't think about girls at all until lately, when… I suppose I'm not, but sometimes now I do, does that make any sense at all? When I like someone very much, when I feel drawn somehow to the person she is…"

The flame is indeed given without a question, and Fabia's slight cough makes Cooper smile warmly, glad to see that the woman was willing to get a taste of her world. "I see," she nods at the woman's confession, running a tired hand over her face. Unknowingly she's smeared the lipstick on her cheek from earlier, but the shape of two lips is still somewhat visible. "Yes, I've only slept with men, but I know what you mean. There was a healer I knew long ago. Ranjali. I hit on her once, for the sake of a mission to get some info out. But honestly, I found her quite beautiful, and so delicate. Like if I could only touch her she would break." Her cigarette hand reaches forward a little as if to reach out and touch something. "I wanted to break her a little. But not in that way. More like I wanted to break into her mind and soul," she shrugs casually, but she then returns to the present and to Fabia on her shoulder. "I feel I'm drawn to you too as well. I'm not sure if its sexual, though. But I will say I've been quite lonely this past year, and you're the first person who's company I've sought out in a while."

A drunken Fabia can be a very sympathetic listener. Her eyes rise to Cooper's face, or as much of it as she can see from lower on the sofa, tucked against the younger woman, with her head on her shoulder; she nods, exhaling a small sigh, as though there's something in there she understands. And then, at the last, she glows with pleasure at having been pursued, for whatever reason, by someone she likes. She brings the cigarette to her lips once more, contemplating, and exhales a smoke ring. "Well, sweetie," she says, the light of mischief in her eyes, "shall we find out?" She puts the cigarette into her other hand and reaches up to take hold of Cooper's face with soft, gentle fingers, which further smudge the lipstick she left there earlier. She turns within the circle of her arm, sitting up further, and, unless any great obstacle is presented to this venture, leans in to kiss her. How similar they taste, just at present; cheap cigarettes and Fabia's spur-of-the-moment cocktails…

Lashes lowered as Cooper gazes down at the dancer she has within her arms, she remains still when the woman sighs. It's almost as if she already knows what is coming. And even as Fabia's hands control her head, she remains compliant though not docile, as if enjoying the idea of being served. Her eyes close gently when lips are planted onto her cheek, and Cooper finishes her drink too. But not too long after the glass is replaced with Fabia's kiss, which is delightfully accepted at first before being taken with the blonde's own responses. Her own finger perches firmly under Fabia's chin, pulling her in more until she pauses, and withdraws to wipe her mouth with the back of her hand. "Damn, this lipstick," she grumbles with a whisper at the smear on the back of her hand. Cooper then proceeds to roughly run a thumb over Fabia's bottom lip before, running fingers through the henna'd hair on the nape of the woman's neck to pull her back into the kiss, more sure of herself this time.

As Cooper gains in surety, so does Fabia in compliance; she likes a confident lover, it seems, and blossoms beneath such a touch. She lets herself be kissed for as long as it amuses Cooper to kiss her, and then straddles her lap as she reaches for the neighbouring ashtray, leaving both their cigarettes smouldering within it. She has done this before; no matter how drunk she is she remembers not to drop her cigarette. Her hands find the hem of Cooper's ghastly sweater and she tugs it up over her head and discards it with an air of triumph.

"Come on, sweetie," she murmurs, regarding the young blonde with a terribly fond and inviting smile, as her feet find the floor and she stands — intoxicated as she is, a minor miracle. Her hands are suddenly in Cooper's. "Let me help you make up your mind, once and for all, whether you don't… or you do."

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